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Comprehensive new book chronicles The Jam’s final year

The Jam 1982, a terrific and nicely illustrated book, tells the tale of the events across the year 1982 that led up to The Jam’s split and final concert in December of that year.

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Rick Buckler -- The Jam 1982 cover art

THE JAM 1982
Omnibus Press (Hardcover)

By John Curley

Written by The Jam’s drummer, Rick Buckler, and the writer and broadcaster Zöe Howe, The Jam 1982, in text and images, provides a quite comprehensive overview of the final year of The Jam, who were one of the U.K.’s biggest bands at the time of their split. In the book’s Foreword, the longtime London-based DJ Gary Crowley writes that The Jam’s fans were a “real community.” The band did have one of the most ardent fanbases, and many of those fans took the band’s split very hard. And the band is still revered by those fans to this day, as I saw firsthand this past summer at the This Is The Modern World exhibition in Brighton, England.

The book, which is dedicated to the late writer Simon Wells, kicks off with an Introduction by Buckler that provides a brief telling of the history of The Jam leading up to 1982. One of the things that Buckler recounts in the Introduction is the band’s difficult time in America and how the band cut an American tour short when their single “Going Underground” went to Number 1 in the U.K. The band flew home on the Concorde so that they could appear on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops to promote the single.

In addition to Buckler and Crowley, among those providing new quotes to tell the story of The Jam’s year in 1982 are Peter Wilson, the producer of The Jam’s final album The Gift, the photographers Pennie Smith and Neil ‘Twink’ Tinning, journalist and broadcaster Eddie Piller, Dennis Munday, The Jam’s A&R and product manager at Polydor, Steve Nichol, the trumpet player on The Gift, journalist Paolo Hewitt, Suede bassist Mat Osman, Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki, and Jamie Telford, who played keyboards on The Jam’s final tour. Toward the end of the book, Tinning tells a moving story about Buckler’s kind gesture to a fan of The Jam that was dying of leukemia.

A glaring omission is any new input from The Jam’s other two members, lead vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter Paul Weller and bassist/vocalist Bruce Foxton. But that is the book’s only real flaw. And Weller and Foxton are represented in quotes taken from other sources. In one of the archive quotes, Weller discusses with journalist Barry Cain in a 1982 interview with Flexipop why he decided to call it a day with The Jam, stating, "I told Rick and Bruce in the middle of August. In my own mind, I’ve been thinking about it for some time. There are a lot of contributory factors as to why, but it’s mainly on a personal level, the way I feel as a person. One day I just woke up and thought about the whole secure situation The Jam was in and it terrified me. The fact that we could go for another ten years and have hits and be successful really frightened the life out of me. I’m 24 and here I am SECURE. That’s when I decided I wanted it to end."

In Buckler’s writing about The Jam’s split, it is clear that he still has some regret about the timing of it, given The Jam’s success at the time, as well as displeasure with how Weller broke the news to him and Foxton. (Buckler states at one point that he and Weller have not spoken since 1983.)

Another regret that Buckler states is that he turned down the invitation of Caron Wheeler to be the drummer in the band that she was putting together. Wheeler, as one half of the vocal duo Afrodiziak, provided backing vocals on The Jam’s last tour. She would go on to gain fame as the lead vocalist for the British R&B group Soul II Soul.

On The Jam’s breakup, Smith states, “I might have been surprised about the split at the time, but you know, a lot of bands break up when they’ve done what they intended to do originally, they grow away from each other. Bands are primarily blokes exploring the planet together with a similar identity – once they start getting different inputs individually, they grow apart like any relationship.”

Regarding The Jam’s legacy, Crowley opines, “Weller’s dedication is absolutely total, which I think makes him unique. It’s all about the art and his music, and his kind of belief in the power of it. As for The Jam, it never got old. It never got depressing. They went out like The Beatles. It was pure. It was never soiled. The power of The Jam has never, ever, ever diminished.”

The book wraps up with a brief epilogue that discusses Weller’s early work with The Style Council and Buckler forming a new band, Time UK.

The book, which is being published now to coincide with the 40th anniversary of The Jam’s split and is illustrated throughout by quite a few outstanding photos, is a must have for fans of The Jam.

The Jam 1982 can be ordered at